Monday, 25 July 2016

Mostly Dramaturgy: David Ephgrave @ Edfringe 2016

Mostly David Ephgrave
Just the Tonic at The Caves (Venue 88)
Aug 4-14, 16-28 12.00pm

Mostly David Ephgrave_Dramaturgy DatabaseThe back end of comic duo Doggett & Ephgrave turns the spotlight on himself for an hour of solo stand-up. Don’t worry: he hasn’t heard of them either. 'David Ephgrave is as smooth as they come' (BBC). 'Ephgrave is a very likeable stand-up, confident but not cocky, and a lot of fun to spend time with' ( 'An eye for the bizarre, the sinister and the downright ridiculous' ( 'The way he interacts with his audience and gets the timing spot on does reveal he's no newcomer to the comedy circuit' (

What was the inspiration for this performance?
Most of the material started out in my daily blog, which I began three years ago, after being advised by the workaholic stand-up Richard Herring in an interview recorded for my double act’s podcast that it was a good way to hone your craft. Doing this helped me sidestep overthinking what to talk about, and gave me a database to call on when I’m stuck for ideas. It stands as an embarrassing record of the slapstick that haunts my existence; I’m like flypaper for mishaps.

How did you go about gathering the team for it?
I eyeballed myself in the mirror Robert-De-Niro-in-Taxi-Driver-style and asked if I wanted to do it. Apparently, I did. Working solo is a relatively new experience for me. I’ve been half of the comic duo Doggett & Ephgrave for a decade, and before that, I was in a band. I wrote most of the songs, but was able to hide this fact by surrounding myself with other band members, which was cunning on my part.

These days, I rely on my wife and my double act partner (who aren’t one and the same) for feedback. I have a friend who’ll often travel with me when I’m gigging and give me notes; other than that, I get my critique from my audience. In a ‘whether they laugh’ sense; I don’t need them shouting out improvements.

How did you become interested in making performance?
I’d wanted to perform in some form or other since I was a kid. My mum remembers losing me on a childhood holiday, only to eventually track me down entertaining an ad hoc audience I’d pulled together from the other kids staying at the camp; I was an irritating little git.

I wanted to be a magician initially. I was a huge fan of the Paul Daniels Magic Show and spent most of my time practising tricks. Daniels lit the touchpaper for me becoming a performer. I was lucky enough to get the chance to tell him this when he played my club Mostly Comedy late last year. He was still at the top of his game. It’s such a shame he’s no longer with us.

Was your process typical of the way that you make a performance?
It depends on what I’m doing. If I’m writing sketches or scripts with my partner, it’s more rigid and tied to what’s on the page. Stand-up is a lot more fluid. Some of the stuff I say has never been written down; so much so that it can be easy to forget the content, if you have a long break between shows. Thank God for my phone’s audio recording facility.

What do you hope that the audience will experience?
Spiritual enlightenment. That, or they’ll laugh a bit.

What strategies did you consider towards shaping this audience experience?
I’m not averse to bribery or threats. Other than that, I tried to make it funny.

As I mentioned previously, much of the content began as a blog post. I then went back to it at a later date and riffed it to myself, to see how it sounded out loud. I might bring the topic up on my double act’s radio show; trying to make Glyn laugh at it. Finally, I’d test it at new material gigs or at my comedy club, before eventually stringing it into a show; then I added pyrotechnics to spice things up a bit.

(NB There are no pyrotechnics.)

Do you see your work within any particular tradition?
I see it as a mix of stand-up, slides and story telling, with a lot of self-deprecation thrown in. I reckon it could translate into a contemporary dance; excuse me while I locate my leotard.

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